November 16, 2020

Henrik Lundqvist opens up about leaving the Rangers and his plans to come back [updated with part 2]

Henrik Lundqvist (Getty Images)

As I’ve been hinting for the last few days, Henrik Lundqvist went on record about his post playing career future. Johan Rylander of the Göteborgs-Posten got the exclusive interview and gave me early access in order to work on the English translations.

Forever Blueshirts is excited to be the first to bring you this great interview for U.S. audiences.

Henrik Lundqvist and New York Rangers will reunite when career over

Henrik Lundqvist has only ever known one NHL team, the New York Rangers. While he is ready for a new chapter and challenge in Washington, the King plans to make a return home when he retires from playing.

“This is a new chapter (Washington), and I look forward to the test,” Lundqvist said to Johan while driving to a practice rink in NJ. “But I’ll be a part of the Rangers for the rest of my life, in one way or another. Both I and the Rangers have been clear about that. That’s how it will be.”

Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik Lundqvist and Johan Rylander discuss future (ctsy Johan Rylander)

The GP reporter followed up for clarity if that meant a job with the Rangers when his career was done. “Yes, it will be the role they want it to be,” Hank responded.

“I don’t know if the role will be small or if there will be something more.” Lundqvist added. “It is further ahead. It’s all about timing. It’s just not now.”

“I feel that I will somehow be connected to Rangers forever after so many years and all the people I got to know in the club, from the owner on down,” he concluded on the topic.

Henrik Lundqvist on next season with the Capitals

The 38 year-old legendary goalie, who still lives in Manhattan discussed his transition to the Capitals. “This is a new chapter in the final stages of my career. It feels very inspiring, actually,” He and his family weighed many factors into their decision including his chances of playing, who the coach was, and other factors.

Henrik also indicated that due to the way next season is shaping up with hub cities and travel, his family will remain in New York. “It will be New York for the family and Washington for me,” he explained. “What matters is what the season will look like. We are not trying to look that far ahead, but right now we are very happy with the situation and life we are living in the US.”

As far as it goes for hockey, Lundqvist is not going in thinking he’s the back up. “I will compete! And I’m gonna to do the best in whatever role it becomes,” Henrik said decisively. “Of course, I’m gonna want to play.”

“[Washington] have also said that in the end it is about winning games,” Lundqvist revealed about his first season in DC, “we will see how many games I get.” As for the current Caps goalie, Ilya Samsonov Hank had nothing but praise for him. “He is a young and very promising goalkeeper, and I will work with him and maybe help him a little. But at the same time we are both there to play.”

Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik Lundqvist at practice (ctsy Johan Rylander)

Henrik Lundqvist considered playing for Frölunda

One of the biggest rumors during the offseason was if Henrik Lundqvist would opt to play with his brother Joel for Frölunda. “Yes, all the cards were on the table,” he told Johan when asked about playing there this season. “All the different scenarios were involved when I started thinking about the whole situation. Somewhere in the big picture it was there.”

“A lot is about timing in life, what happens and what opportunities open up,” Hank continued. “I have never closed the door to Frölunda and I will never do so until the day I leave the game. It will always be a possibility. Now was not the right time.”

Henrik Lundqvist on dealing with COVID-19

Lundqvist also discussed the personal impacts of COVID-19 to him and his family. Frölunda had to recently cancel games due to positive tests and his twin brother Joel was one of the players infected.

“I think we have managed. In fact, we were very drowsy in March and I thought I had it,” Henrik revealed. “But then I had no antibodies when I was tested during the summer.”

“There were very many people around us in New York who had the virus. I hope for the vaccine so people can start to see the light in the tunnel. We need it. A little positive energy.”

Updated with Part 2

Henrik Lundqvist believes in the Capitals

In part one, Lundqvist wanted it known he is not looking to come in and accept the backup role to Ilya Samsonov. “I will compete! And I’m gonna to do the best in whatever role it becomes,” Henrik said decisively. “Of course, I’m gonna want to play.”

“[Washington] has also said that in the end it is about winning games,” Lundqvist revealed about his upcoming season in DC, “we will see how many games I get.” As for Samsonov, Hank had nothing but praise for him. “He is a young and very promising goalkeeper, and I will work with him and maybe help him a little. But at the same time we are both there to play.”

The iconic net minder also gave more details on why he chose the Capitals. “I believe in the team, I believe in the new coach Peter Laviolette. They have won, but are still hungry and want to do it again,” he said. “It’s incredibly difficult to predict how the season will end but I have a good feeling.”

Henrik Lundqvist happy to be with familiar faces

Another reason why the Capitals were so attractive is a chance to play with some old friends. Nicklas Bäckström and former Ranger Carl Hagelin helped sealed the deal with the decision. “We’ve already seen each other in DC when we were there a few weeks ago. I know both of them well,” he said.

“It will be fun to play with “Hagge” again and fun to be with “Bäckis” for more than a few weeks, as it was with the national team,” Lundqvist continued. “[Backstrom] has an incredibly important role in Washington. He’s one of their absolute best players.”

One thing Henrik stressed was not having to face Alex Ovechkin’s slapshot ever again. After 15 years suiting up against it, he has no desire to face one of the hardest shots in the NHL.

“Yeah, he can practice that shot without a goalkeeper!” Lundqvist exclaimed. “But it’s still going to be a good workout. Having one of the best shooters against you in practices is a positive thing.”

Of course, joining forces with Ovechkin is about one thing. “It’s to win,” Hank began. “But it’s also about the journey. There is a lot of emotions that come with the journey, with the group, with the games. Sure, you have an end goal that drives you, but there are other things that drive you as well. And in that aspect Washington felt very attractive.”

Henrik Lundqvist on the U.S. Election and COVID-19

Johan didn’t want to ignore the obvious big story in the U.S. which was a Presidential election during a pandemic. “Yes, it’s hard not to follow!,” Hank answered. “So much has happened in the last five months. Corona, different movements, the election. It has been a lot for the American people at the same time. I hope that it can settle down a bit and that people can find a little more faith in the future and harmony. It has been quite messy for various reasons.”

Henrik also views the news about a vaccine as “positive energy”. He also discussed the personal impacts of COVID-19 to him and his family. Frölunda had to recently cancel games due to positive tests and his twin brother Joel was one of the players infected.

“I think we have managed. In fact, we were very drowsy in March and I thought I had it,” Henrik revealed. “But then I had no antibodies when I was tested during the summer.”

“There were very many people around us in New York who had the virus. I hope for the vaccine so people can start to see the light in the tunnel. We need it.”

Note: A special thank you to Johan Rylander and Henrik’s hometown paper, Göteborgs-Posten. Johan and I have shared information many times and I consider him a friend and one of the best in the business.

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